The FDA will ban seven artificial flavors after consumer watchdog groups presented evidence that they cause cancer in lab animals.
The seven substances are benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, methyl eugenol, myrcene, pulegone, pyridine and styrene. They are used to mimic flavors like mint and cinnamon, and can be listed on labels simply as “artificial flavor,” without being named explicitly. The agency is giving food processors 24 months to phase out the substances in question.
The FDA had allowed these additives on the ground that they do not “pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use,” according to an agency statement. However, several consumer groups, including the Consumers Union and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, petitioned the FDA for the ban, arguing that studies have shown correlations between high concentrations of the additives and cancer in laboratory animals. The FDA agreed that this violates the Delaney Clause, a 1958 law banning food or drug additives that have been found to induce cancer in humans or animals at any dose.
The Delaney Clause led to the ban for six of the seven substances. Styrene is being phased out because the food industry no longer uses it.